Even if you’ve never seen the AMC Channel’s The Walking Dead, you’ve probably at least heard of it. It’s a popular show, perhaps the most popular show on television. It’s about people who are trying to survive in a world increasingly overrun by walking dead people. It’s a gruesome show and I don’t recommend it for children. There are also some adults who should not watch it.
I won’t go into details about the characters or the plot. If you can imagine living in a world where you’re never safe from imminent violent death and everywhere you turn something awful eventually happens, you have a good idea about what it’s like for the characters in the show. That’s what it’s like for me, too, as I watch the humans cope with this violent and unforgiving world. I become part of their world when I’m in a chair in my living room and I sit, transfixed, in front of the TV. I agonize with them and suffer with them. The zombies are trying to eat me just as much as they’re trying to eat the other humans, many of whom are my friends.
I worry about the people on the show. I hate it when my friends are bitten, because I know they must die. Hopefully, one of their friends will shoot them in the head so that they won’t become zombies. I would want someone to do the same for me. There can be nothing more horrifying than to think that, after your death, your dead body will stumble around aimlessly sniffing out fresh human flesh for sustenance. Besides that, I have yet to see an attractive zombie. If your goal is to look nice at your funeral, don’t let a zombie bite you.
You’re probably wondering why anyone would watch a show like the one I just described. Yes, it’s violent and depressing and gross. It makes you wonder about the future of our species, and what would happen if we suffered a worldwide pandemic of a disease that could not be stopped and for which there was no cure. It makes you wonder what you would do in similar situations, and whether you’d be one of the survivors or one of those people who are too weak to cope with a world that is so strange and bleak and awful. It makes you understand, also, that there is a basic human instinct to survive, regardless of the kind of world we’ll have to face if we do survive. Survival comes first, then we’ll worry about making the world better.
Interdependence is also important to the characters on the show. Without it, few survive. Those who go alone through the wilderness are few and far between. Coming upon strangers is scary, because you never know what their motives might be. Are they good people or bad people? Will they kill you for your possessions or will they add to your ability to survive if you take them in? Will they cause trouble in your group? Can they kill zombies if they have to? Can they kill other humans if they have to? Can you?
This is why I watch The Walking Dead, because everything I talked about above makes watching it something I must do.